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Re: Making agriculture work for nutrition: Prioritizing country-level action, research and support

Dr. Emile Houngbo Agricultural University of Ketou (UAK), Benin

How Could Agriculture Contribute to Nutrition In Africa?

The capacity of agriculture to contribute efficiently to nutritional security is strongly linked to the quality of the agricultural sector management at the national (macroeconomic) level.  The form of management which could facilitate the development of this sector and increase its contribution to nutrition is the form which minimizes the risks faced in agricultural activities in the country. The agricultural activities, and especially in Africa, face farming risks (biological, climatic and agronomic risks), and economic risks (slump, drastic price downfall, rooting, etc.). The minimization of these risks should prevent agriculture from the loss of some seasonal produces in their period of abundance – mainly the fruits such as tomato, mango, and orange – in order to reinforce their permanent availability during the year. This risks minimization is necessary to improve agriculture performance, and then motivate important investments in the sector and in the best practices such as agroforestry and ecological agriculture. These investments should increase the agriculture contribution to GDP, the State returns and would incite to research financing in order to generate some models of sustainable farming systems. The solution is therefore to motivate the State to invest in public actions such as:

•    Research on the sustainability of the farming systems which integrate the best practices (agroforestry, ecological agriculture, etc.);
•    Support to technological investments for efficient processing and conservation of nutritive seasonal fruits such as mango, tomato, and orange;
•    Organization of the channels of food crops profitable for the farmer, such as roots and tubers which yields could be strongly increased than that of the cereals;
•    Creation/organization of added value links which could generate significant income to all the actors, especially to the farmers who are the greater losing till today.

Agricultural Economist & Sustainable Development Specialist,
University of Abomey-Calavi (UAC),
National Higher School of Agriculture, Ketou (ENSTA-Ketou),
Head, Department of Rural Economics and Sociology,
05 BP 774 Cotonou (Republic of Benin)